Shoot-out Review: Cheap Fountain Pens, The Next Generation: Chapter 1: Pilot Petit 1

When Doug started his Cheap Pen Reviews, I foolishly offered to review a few more that I had purchased in recent months.

Through my participation at D*I*Y Planner, I rediscovered fountain pens. I really forget how I first found this site. But I recall at some point, someone mentioned fountain pens and I got re-hooked. An old, neglected hobby of mine is calligraphy, so I have had a lot of experience with various ink pens, mostly dip pens due to the sort of inks I would use. I recall using a Schaeffer cartridge pen way back in high school (late 60's).

While cruising the internet looking for new pens to try and play with, I stumbled across JetPens. This site sells all sorts of Japanese-style pens: from fountain to gellies. I ordered a Pilot Petit1 and a Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen. This review covers the Pilot Petit1. I will review the Tasche next.

Credit where due: I have copied the following review format from Fountain Pen Network. Thanks, guys.

Ok, deep breath, back straight, knees together, hands over head, and jump in...

"I think my fountain pen is turning Japanese" - The Pilot Petit1 Fountain Pen

First Impressions (9/10): Maybe I am easily impressed, but I really liked the Petit 1 when I opened the package. These pens are not particularly fancy (II like a simple, functional design) nor are they very expensive.

Appearance & Design (9/10): A smooth, compact look, reminding me of the Fischer Space Pen with the added bonus of being transparent.

Weight & Dimensions (8/10): Light and compact. When I weighted it using my kitchen scale, it was 8 or 9 grams 4 inches long capped, 3.5 inches long with the cap removed, and 5 inches long with the cap on the end.

Nib & Performance (10/10): The nib says "F", so I assume it's a fine point. I find the pen's diameter comfortable in my hand. Without the cap, I put the end of the pen in my palm to write. With the cap on, I hold it in the traditional manner. Both ways are very comfortable.

Filling System (6/10): The Petit 1 uses a non-standard cartridge system. This means you must buy Pilot Petit1 refills as opposed to generic. The good news is that they are not expensive and come in a variety of colors. They come in capsules containing three cartridges. JetPens lists 16 different ink colors (US$2.00 each), and JStationery lists 15 colors (US$1.90 each).

Cost & Value (10/10): I purchased my pens from JetPens (US$4.50 each) and JStationery (US$4.00 each)

Conclusion (Final score[52]: 8.3): I love these little pens. My only disappointment to date involves catching one on a pocket and snapping the clip off. I think they are great starter pen because of their low price. I imagine they would have appeal to the artistic type because the ink comes in so many different colors. It is small enough for a child's hand, but not too small for an adult hand.

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Any Pen Pilot Makes is Great!

Pilot makes great pens regardless of price. The nib is always smooth and writes out of the box. The Petit1 is a fine pocket pen in the tradition of the Sheaffer Tuckaway (maybe others). If you can find a syringe you can refill the cartridge a few times from an ink bottle. Eventually it will wear out. Got my syringe from a vet. In some states you can purchase from a drugstore without a prescription. The Petit1 has a wide cartridge opening so a needle is not needed on the syringe.

Refilling Petit1 cartridges...

I am curious about the "wearing out" -- how does it wear out ?
As far as refilling them, I find I can extract the little round plastic "plug" with a tweezer, fill it with ink, then put the plug back, pushing it into place with the flat end of a small dowel. Then I have a sealed cartridge ready for future use. Anyone need pictures for that ?
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Wearing Out A Cartridge

I refill my Lamy cartridges with a syringe, but I pay attention when I put the cartridge back into the pen because the hole will eventually wear and become loose enough to leak. I generally reuse a cartridge 3-5 times before moving to a new one, just to prevent potential problems.

Pilot Petite1

I picked up a few of these Pilot mini fountain pens recently, and am mostly in agreement with ygor's review. I'm used to the refill-cartridge-with-syringe routine (my wife is diabetic - endless supply of syringes), so it's not a big deal for me. Besides, I like to use certain inks that don't come in cartridge form. As to the comments below about leakage while flying: I've never had a cartridge or converter filled FP leak while in flight. I *have* had bladder-filled vintage FPs leak badly though.


Small enough and looks good

If you say the diameter is wide enough to not require inserting a syringe, this is way cool! I'm just concerned such an aperture might be leaky though. I hope the cartridge fits tightly enough.

Mo' info ?

Any experience or predictions on how these would do on an airplane (leakage), and has anyone found them available in U.S. retail stores?

About leakage...

I have had an inky pocket enough times that I would empty mine before flying with one -- and use a pencil inflight.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Too much

What a pain. A 'must leave home' pen.

Do you know of a fountain pen that won't leak in a plane ?

I would expect it is a universal problem due to the change in air pressure.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Two Solutions

1. Empty the pen.

2. Completely fill the pen.


I think #1 is the easier choice.
However, Lex's comment implies that this is not a universal problem.
Any clues ?
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Little experience, mostly fear :-)

I have one lowly fountain pen, the Waterman Phileas. I carried it on 3-4 flights with no problems. Point up, capped in a shirt pocket, but I may just be lucky. Uses cartridge refills. But I even had a Pilot G2 leak on a flight so I'm trying to be cautious.

1 flight with Lamy vista OK

Earlier this year I took an (empty during the flight down) Lamy Vista on a business trip and ended up not using much of the ink cartridge on the trip. Not wanting to waste most of a cartridge, I wrapped the Vista in a paper towell and put it in a zip-lock bag in my carry-on luggage for the flight from Southern California back to Oregon. I was surprised to find that the pen had not leaked on the flight back and wrote perfectly right out of the bag. Maybe I was lucky or the altitude was low enough to prevent enough of a pressure change to cause a leak, but I thought I'd throw that experience into the discussion.

I have taken Lamy Safari's

I have taken Lamy Safari's on many flights including international without inkcident (sorry). I use converters rather than cartridges though.

Bob H.

Take the train!

;-) I just thought of this..... But of course, you poor folks in America have no idea how much more enjoyable taking the train is over flying!

no driving to the airport. no fighting with check-in. no TSA. no security checks. no removing of the shoes. No waiting forever for boarding. no boarding. no taxiing. no waiting your turn in line for 2 hours on the tarmac. no fighting with others over overhead compartment space. no fighting to get off the plane. no running to the taxi stand or bus stop. no drive _back_ to the center of town. You go to the central train station. get on the train, toss your luggage above you, sit down, plug in your computer, and start working. The train leaves the station, but you don't realize it, because you are engrossed in work or conversation. This continues until your train stops. You get off the train, and are _already_ in city center! Take care of your business, rinse, and repeat for the trip home. Why fly????? I've timed various travel times, and potential times, and it takes no longer to take the train between most cities than it does to fly, because you don't have all that wasted time with security and check-in, nor the travel time to outside the city to the airport. This is most definitely true in Europe, but look at the East coast of the US. From Boston to DC, it can't be more than 4 hours by train. That is the outside time. And from DC to Charlotte would be faster, and from Charlotte to Atlanta, no more than 3 hrs. Pittsburgh would be a bit further, but from Pittsburgh to all major Ohio cities, again, a potential 3 hrs. If there were a truly fast train, like in France, you could do Chicago in under 3 hrs, maybe as low as 2 or 2.5. Problem is, there is no infrastructure in the US for this. Shame. My brother goes from Phillie to NY on Amtrack, but it's awfully expensive! It ought not be that way, IMO.

Sorry.... couldn't help myself. After yesterday's miracle on the Hudson, and thinking about a friend and coworker who's coming by train today from Warsaw, I just couldn't help but think about this stuff. (And NO, my model layout sitting behind me does _not_ color my attitude in any way!) ;-)



The trains in Europe are wonderful. Here, perhaps not so much, although it's been years since I've actually taken one in the US. I expect that train travel will become more attractive here because it is far less polluting than traveling by air. And you don't want to get me on the subject of transporting goods by train rather than by truck. My blood pressure skyrockets whenever I get bullied by one of those trucks on the highway. They act as though they own the roads. Then there is the ridiculous security surrounding air travel since 9/11. Train travel is far more civilized; we'll figure it out and develop the necessary infrastructure here in the US when we're forced to.

Transport infrastructure

There are groups advocating for high-speed rail to become part of the gov't's infrastructure plan, and I do believe our transport system doesn need serious overhauling. I love taking the train when I can; I even take commuter trains from DC up into western MD to visit family. But I'm hoping for an expansion of rail travel in the future.

And even without it, we need an overhaul. I've been hearing about various areas that are having horrific traffic problems, like Seattle, and I'm involved in a fight for a light-rail line in the DC burbs, connecting various neighborhoods. Rail is relaxing and low-stress; we need more of it.

There's more to the US than the East Coast...

It would be great if we just needed to travel a couple hundred miles to do business in the capital or in a neighboring country, and could get there and back in a day. But I looked into Amtrak for a trip from Dallas to DC and it would take more than 24 hours, by way of Chicago. I think I would have had to spend two nights on the train.

I used to have international students who thought someone from the school should have traveled from Texas to NYC to meet them when their plane touched down at JFK.

If you had to travel between Moscow and London for business you might not find a train so convenient. That's the same scale we're dealing with here in the US.

I'd love to have inexpensive, fast interstate train travel, but with the distances involved, train travel in the US is either for the coasts or for vacation travel.

Scale and local transportation

You got it ! Going between European countries is like travelling between states in the US. Also, one you get to your destination, in Europe, it is easy and not too expensive to get around without a car. Not so in the US.


"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Amtrak is bad.

It's easier in Canada. I commute by train from Ottawa to Kingston three times a week. It'S wonderful.

re-read my post....

You will see what kind of travel I was discussing--those trips that _could_ be done in nearly equal time to flying. It is obvious that flying coast-to-coast, or TX to FL is out, but trains within FL are certainly not out, nor are many routes on the east coast, nor within Cali or even TX (Dallas-Houston? Houston-San An?) Trains could do an excellent job of supplementing air travel for many of these shorter flights. In my flying, I've run into lots of people who take 2 hour flights or less to get places. These are the flights that could easily become redundant, were train travel more widely used. But with Amtrack in charge, it will never happen, and I am only slightly surprised that NS or CSX hasn't stepped into it on their own--only slightly. The other side of the equation is that the airlines will fight this claw, tooth and nail, should someone ever attempt to get something like this off the ground. Oh, and old habits die hard--esp. among the traveling public in the US.


Jon, I understand what

Jon, I understand what you're saying, and agree with you. Sometimes it takes us longer to drive across a metro area to take someone to the airport than the flight does!

And as Ygor pointed out, once we get to our destination we have to rent a car in order to get around in the city. DC and NYC are exceptions, not the rule.

My daughter just moved to DC and I'm still marveling that she doesn't need a car and is able to get wherever she needs to go via public transport, which is just impossible here in Big D! I'm a consultant and can put several hundred miles per week on my car, and there's no way I could get by without it, even though we have light rail and bus systems, because the population is much less dense than it is in places like Cairo, Egypt, or Washington, DC.

I guess I feel defensive that we rely on the car so much. But then I've heard that the auto makers scrapped the mass transit systems that existed in our cities, didn't they? So we could eventually bail them out, I guess.

It's depressing.

Train travel here in the U.S.

Some short distance train travel works here in the U.S. but even for me traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco, which is an hour plane ride excluding the security frackas and early check in crapola, while traveling on the train is like a full 12 hours or more and that is only a 600 mile distance between cities. They are talking about a magnetic train now going from LA area to Vegas in about a 2 hour trip, hope that happens in my lifetime. regards to all Manny

just arrived...

I just received my petit 1 pilot pen and I love it. I have not used a fountain pen before. I love the way it just glides over the paper. I ordered brown and it is great. I will order more.

My first time too

I haven't used a fountain pen in over 20 years, so I consider myself a first-timer. I ordered one, with some extra ink, after reading this, and it arrived today and writes beautifully. I've written a few little things with it and yeah, it just glides over the paper, no problems. I got blue-black and I think I may order a green one, just for the heck of it. Or some other color. I want to start a journal and I'll practice on this.

Love It!

I was intrigued, and I ordered one, together with a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo, to get free shipping from I just love playing with it! I'm going to get my next bunch from, to try out their service, since the pens are cheaper from them. Anyhow, I got a mandarin orange pen, and it's great for underlining and general notes. I've used it as much as my Pelikan filled with my new Pilot ink (which is also awesome, BTW). I'm now really tempted to get a Pilot decimo. If their cheap pens are this great, what must their 18K nib pens be like? Must find out. Must satisfy pen urge. Must pay other bills first.

These pens are great!

I bought 3 more, as well as refills, from I love the colors, and I also love that I'm doing my little bit to help stimulate the economy and stave off worldwide depression. I ordered some Hi-Tec C pens yesterday. I'm just blown away by the quality of Pilot products. That decimo is becoming more of a likelihood in my future!

PS: An interesting discovery since I wrote the above text- although my good Pelikans feather on Levenger paper, the Pilot Petits write just fine. What's the deal here?

Can't find them in this part of the World

Cute Pen. Its strange, but I can't find them in any of the stationery stores in Chennai, India. They stock the other Pilot pens though.